Four Researchers From Asia Receive L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards

The L’Oréal-UNESCO International Awards For Women in Science acknowledge outstanding women who are pushing the frontiers of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

AsianScientist (Feb. 12, 2019) – Four women scientists from the Asia Pacific have been honored at the 21st L’Oréal-UNESCO International Awards For Women in Science (FWIS). The awards recognize outstanding women scientists from all over the world for the excellence of their research in a variety of fields from quantum mathematics to materials science and molecular biology.

In the field of scientific research, the glass ceiling is still a reality: women only account for 28 percent of researchers, occupy just 11 percent of senior academic positions and number a mere three percent of Nobel Prizes.

Since 1998, the L’Oréal Foundation, in partnership with UNESCO, has worked to improve the representation of women in scientific careers, upholding the conviction that the world needs science and science needs women. In its first 20 years, the For Women in Science program supported and raised the profiles of 102 laureates and more than 3,000 talented young scientists, providing them with research fellowships allocated annually in 117 countries.

This year, Professor Maki Kawai, director general of the Institute of Molecular Sciences, the University of Tokyo, Japan, and a member of the Science Council of Japan was recognized as the Asia Pacific laureate. Kawai is known for her groundbreaking work in manipulating molecules at the atomic level, allowing for the synthesis and fabrication of novel materials with broad applications. Her exceptional research has contributed to the foundations of nanotechnologies at the forefront of discoveries of new chemical and physical phenomena, with implications for critical environmental issues such as energy efficiency.

Three other early-career scientists from the Asia Pacific were announced as International Rising Talents, selected from among the 275 national and regional L’Oréal-UNESCO FWIS fellowship winners. From Singapore, Dr. Sherry Aw, group leader at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Singapore, studies the fruit fly to shed light on neuroscience. The discoveries from her lab could pave the way for better treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.

Meanwhile, Dr. Mika Nomoto of the University of Nagoya, Japan, was highlighted for her work on molecular biology and plant pathology. Nomoto has developed a protein synthesis system for investigating plant immune responses. Her research has led to a spin-off company NUProtein Co.

Last but not least, Dr. Mary Jacquiline Romero of the University of Queensland, Australia, was recognized for her research on quantum physics. By manipulating light at the quantum scale, she is helping to enable higher resolution diagnostic imaging as well as quantum information transmission.

The scientists’ achievements will be celebrated at an awards ceremony on March 14, 2019 at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris, France.


Source: L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science; Photo: University of Tokyo, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Nagoya University, The University of Queensland.
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